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A Vital Guide To...Villa Park

A Vital Guide To...Villa Park

Where next?

Aston Villa's originally named Villa Park.

Where are we seated?

In the Doug Ellis stand. The 3,000 strong away support will be split evenly between the upper and lower tiers. The stand is in the North East corner of the stadium. Visiting supporters used to be seated in the North Stand, behind the goal, but were moved around five years ago to the side.

What`s it like?

Villa Park is a funny old ground. The renovated Trinity Road Stand looks modern, but lopsided, a bit like it's been made out of lego. The Holte End is vast and impressive to the eye. But the North Stand and the Doug Ellis Stand are very much stuck in the immediate aftermath of the Taylor report.

The ground is a lot like Aston Villa Football Club itself. You get the sense that something great probably happened there once and it's not impossible to imagine that one day it might again. But no time soon. Somehow you think it might have been great in another lifetime and will be again in a generation that you don't live to see.

What are the facilities like?

In the Doug Ellis stand? Woeful. Much as they were in the North Stand. The concourses wouldn't fit one of Francis Jeffers' ears. Food is served out of a cage pretty much and the queues are horrendous and obstructive because the corridors are so tight. It also makes accessing the toilets a logistical nightmare, so bring a colostomy bag and a piss jar.

I've never tried the beer or the food at Villa Park because, though nutritious and wholesome I'm sure it is, I haven't ever fancied bursting a lung queuing up for it. I recall buying a hot dog in the North Stand in about 2001. There were no condiments available.

Inside you'll be treated to the double whammy of police insisting that you sit down, but finding you have a seat that Jernade Meade wouldn't fit into with which to follow their instructions. (P.S. Watch the fruity language, the stewards there tend to be some of the more active in the league).

That said, the facade and steps leading up to the Holte End is one of my favourite sites in English football stadia. It sits alongside the Marble Halls and the Shankly Gates for its distinctiveness and it's allusions to grandeur.

What are the home fans like?

Do you like the song Kumbaya? You do? Excellent. Because you'll be hearing every possible combination of words in the English language crammed into its pentamic syntax. They sing f*****g everything to that sodding tune. I reckon they probably order their pints to it. 'Pint of Becks me love, pint of Becks.'

You might also get a heeeeeeeeeeeeelarious rendition of 'Have you ever won the European Cup?' Villa fans also have that 'Yippee ay aye, yippee ay ooooooo, Holte Enders in the sky' song that makes me want to punch kittens in their cute little faces. I genuinely have no truck with Villa, but there's something about their songs that brings me out in hives. It's totally irrational and, I'd guess, personal to me.

But on the whole Villa aren't such a bad lot. They have that kind of affable and accepting gloominess that most Midlanders have. They're only truly happy when they're miserable. It's charming.

How to get there?

London Midland supersaver return will get you there for £21 (obviously at that price, the train stops a lot and the journey time is a couple of minutes north of two hours). If you're a flash git with plenty of disposable income, a virgin train will have you at Birmingham New Street from Euston in about 80 minutes. Once at Birmingham New Street, change for a local train to either Witton- which is closer to the away end- or to Aston.

If you're driving, good luck. I hope you like traffic.

Any historical landmarks?

There is a statue of Sir William McGregor outside the Trinity Road End. McGregor was a President at Aston Villa until his death in 1911, but most crucially, he was the founder of the Football League.

Where to drink?

As an away fan, you'll get shovelled into the Witton Arms. This is a pub that's half given over to away supporters and even has a separate entrance. They have the cheek to charge you for entry. The beer isn't up to much, but it's pretty sizeable. If you're going for a sing song with some Gooners and aren't that fussed about the beer or the £2 entry fee, this is your place.

However, if you fancy getting into Witton a bit earlier and are a persuer of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, about a 10 minute walk away on Aston High Street is the Barton Arms. It's a Grade II listed building, serves cracking beer, plenty of seats and does Thai food too. Best not to wear colours, but I have family in the area and this has been a regular haunt for me whenever I'm visiting that part of the world. LD.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Tim Stillman
Date:Tuesday November 13 2012
Time: 10:05PM


As a Villa fan, got to say this is pretty fair (please imagine this to the tune of Cum Bay Yaah...).
13/11/2012 22:30:00
lol ............ pretty fair and honest article. Tell me though, do you have an atmosphere at the Emirates and have you ever won the European Cup ? no and probably never will, you are just a more glamorous selling club than us ;) UTV
13/11/2012 23:29:00
You won't have had a beer in the ground cos they don 't serve it to Arsenal
14/11/2012 06:33:00
That would explain it. Like I say, never troubled myself to try!
Little Dutch
14/11/2012 07:48:00
When I read that bit about 'getting the sense that they will win something in a generation you'll never see' I thought you'd started talking about the Arse.
14/11/2012 08:30:00
;) the boozer there was good n all before the 2 alan wickers charged on the door! Liberty!
14/11/2012 09:22:00
The Trinity AND the Holte are "lopsided" due to the fact that the corners of each stand either meet or over-hang Trinity Road. It's actually engineering at it's best, combined with a sound decision to expand at our current site rather than move away from Aston. Something that Arsenal weren't able to do - hence the move to a new bowl that's named after a middle-eastern airline and is geographically removed from the club's original home. I know which I'd prefer. I have personal recollection and gratitude for away fans being moved from the lower north stand..... as a 14-year old I once cut my arm on a barrier while standing in the holte. I was taken to the medical station in the north stand and while walking around the pitch with the St. John's man and a Steward I was spat upon, hit by objects including coins, physically threatened and verbally abused by..... visiting Arsenal fans...... what a group of tough guys going after a child.... :)
14/11/2012 12:39:00
I think you took a casual observation rather too seriously. But I'll rewrite the article for you immediately after I've taken an engineering degree so it meets with your approval. Lovely anecdote there by the way. Not sure how in the name of Satan's portion is bears any relevance to the article, but thanks all the same.
Little Dutch
14/11/2012 13:38:00
If you hate Villa Park so much then stay away, simples. On the note where you say slag our fans off for chanting, at least our fans chant, your fans go on like they are at a funeral. Also on the note of winning things, tell me what exactly have Arsenal won?
Green Villan
14/11/2012 15:32:00
Before that gets answered Green Villan it's best you set parameters, what year groups are we looking at? And most football fans' disdain for footballl grounds unfortunately can't tie in with what ones they visit, it depends on when their club is playing, cos most, y'now go to support the team. I hate White Hart Lane but love winning there.
14/11/2012 15:56:00
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